AUBURN — The Auburn Public Library is hosting an exhibit, “Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam,” presenting the stories of young American soldiers and Marines going to Vietnam during the 1960s, through graffiti left on a troopship’s bunk canvases.

The exhibit was developed by Art and Lee Beltrone of Keswick, Virginia, founders of the Vietnam Graffiti Project. When the graffiti aboard the troopship USNS General Nelson M. Walker was discovered in 1997, the Vietnam Graffiti Project was created to preserve examples of the historic canvases by removing them from the ship and placing them in museums throughout the country.

Every bunk canvas has at least one story to tell, as the artwork and slogans capture not only the writer’s thoughts and emotions, but also the era’s politics, military pride, humor and anti-war sentiments. Efforts were made to locate the graffiti-writers, and their voyage stories are incorporated into exhibit text panels.

Artifacts were also collected from the Walker during the scrapping operation when the bunks, as they were removed by workers from the ship, yielded personal items left behind by the troops. Everything from candy bar wrappers, empty cigarette packs and magazines, to books from the ship’s library and liquor bottles were removed and are part of the exhibit’s “Things They Left Behind” display.

The canvases are on the first floor of the library at 49 Spring St. and will be on display through Thursday, Nov. 16. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

FMI: www.auburnpubliclibrary.org, 207-333-6640.

Auburn Public Library Director Mamie Anthoine Ney adjusts the canvas bunks display banner in the “Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam” exhibit, on view at the Auburn Public Library through Thursday, Nov. 16.


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